London: British Literature and Culture

Students sit and listen to a presentation about the archives.

Program Term:


Language Requirement:



 Dana Currier

Application Deadline:


The London program is designed to provide students with the unique opportunity to study British literature and culture in London, the lively capital of modern England and a city of great beauty and historical richness.

    In the course of this intensive, ten-week program, students take four courses. Three of these courses, devoted to British literature and culture, are each compressed into approximately three weeks and taught in succession by Chicago faculty. The fourth course runs throughout the term at a less intensive pace and allows for independent study of a London-based topic. London itself, once the metropolitan hub of the British Empire with a history dating from Roman times, is central to the mission of this program and students are expected to make a serious project of exploring its corners. Toward this end, the program includes a number of field trips within and around London, aimed at connecting texts with living monuments.

    The following courses will be offered in the Autumn 2022 program.

    ENGL 20158 Living (in) London: Human City, Urban Spaces, Metropolitan Encounters
    Josephine McDonagh
    How have people inhabited London over time? And how are these varied forms of living reflected in the vast body of texts by writers and film makers who have made London their home? National capital and imperial metropolis, London is also a network of local neighborhoods in which communities have developed over time. In this course we will examine texts by an assortment of Londoners from the 19th and 20th centuries who write about urban sites of human interaction and encounter. Our course will consider London locations as places of compassion, repression, brutality, hospitality and rejection, resistance and compliance, friendship and love. How are these possibilities – both affective and political, personal and public – related to the various environments of the city? How are human relationships shaped by the specific forms of city buildings and institutions? And how have these urban places been impacted by styles of city living, changing populations, and the different communities that have inhabited them? In short, how do Londoners live together? Our texts will include Mary Prince, History of a West Indian Slave, William Blake, Songs of Innocence and Experience, Thomas De Quincey, Confessions of an English Opium Eater, Christina Rossetti, Goblin Market, James Berry, Windrush Songs, Derek Jarman, “The Last of England”, Steve McQueen, “Mangrove”, and essays by Michel De Certeau, Henri Lefebvre, and Ghassan Hage.

    ENGL 20140 London: Industrial City to Financial Center
    Elaine Hadley
    Over the last two centuries, London has undergone two “revolutions,” the industrial revolution and the financialization revolution, both of which have had significant impacts on the built landscape and residential patterns of its neighborhoods. In the nineteenth century, London was not necessarily the locus of the industrial revolution that transformed the United Kingdom in uneven ways, but was nonetheless profoundly affected by it. Most notably, the size of London was one million in 1801 but increased to 6.7 million by 1901, with associated impacts on the urban environment. And over the past three decades, in part through intentional interventions by national and city government, London has become a major world financial center, arguably becoming one of the “global cities” that the sociologist Saskia Sassen has described. This, too, has ushered in significant changes in the lived textures of London, altering the horizons of the City of London and the East End in particular. With these two events as frame, we will explore a variety of literary texts that concentrate on specific regions, neighborhoods, and even streets that have registered these forces in detectable ways. We will explore, in particular, the concept of gentrification, consider its efficacy as an explanatory device, even as we remain primarily dedicated to thinking about how literary works seek to depict these large-scale transformations. Some of the texts we might read are Charles Dickens’s Oliver Twist, George Gissing’s The Netherworld, Mike Leigh’s High Hopes, John Lanchester’s Capital, among other supporting texts (Sassen, the poverty maps of Michael Booth). Our study will be supported by guided walks through some of the more notable neighborhoods touched by the effects of industrialization and financialization. This course will fulfill the requirements for fiction and 1830-1940 within the English major.

    CRWR 12151 The Gothic Lens
    Vu Tran
    The Gothic, overwhelming in its scope and its evolution and often loose application, is perhaps, as one critic puts it, “a staggering, limping, lurching form, akin to the monsters it so frequently describes.” As with any genre, it can inhabit a world of repetitive gestures, of clichéd characters, settings, and scenarios. At its most vivid and haunting, however, no other form more effectively narrativizes our encounters with the irrational and the inexplicable in nature, in others, and in ourselves. In this arts core course, we will approach gothic fiction as a mode of narrative subjectivity that confronts the most vulnerable and obscured aspects of the self and, in that sense, portrays what we might call a haunted state of being. What might these extraordinary scenarios of horror, transgression, violence, or supernatural possibility reflect about “ordinary” life—about the hidden desires, contradictions, pathologies, and existential anxieties that we all have in common? We will read gothic fiction from various eras in English literature and frame our discussions in foundational gothic concepts (the Sublime, the uncanny, etc). We will consider historical and sociopolitical contexts but aim our brightest light on the private and psychological terrain of the stories we read. And since this is an Arts Core course, we will also look at these stories from a writer’s point of view, examining not only the effectiveness of their technical decisions (plotting, characterization, prose, and other structural elements), but what these decisions might suggest about the authors themselves, as far as we can reasonably speculate on them—an approach we will then apply to our creative writing exercises, our “gothic scenes,” where we will privilege our own intimate point of view.

    ENGL 10102 Literature, Property, and Violence
    Adam Fales
    Ranging from the spectacular to the hidden, from the national to the domestic, affecting people unequally across races and genders, violence often confounds our expectations for representation. Similarly, property, itself unequally distributed, either appears or disappears depending on how we tell a story. Narrative is a crucial aspect of how we both reveal and conceal the presence of violence and property in everyday life.

    Taking its material from US literature prior to the twenty-first century, this course examines how both violence and property intertwine throughout the literary history of the United States. In this course, we will focus on the ways that literary texts, primarily prose narrative, represent these confusing phenomena to understand the political, aesthetic, and historical implications of both property and violence. We will read a variety of literary texts, including work by Harriet Jacobs, Herman Melville, and Toni Morrison with supplemental readings from a variety of critical and theoretical perspectives.

    London program participants occupy furnished two-bedroom apartments with shared bathrooms and full kitchens in the Farringdon neighborhood in London. The apartments include wireless internet access, laundry facilities, and televisions. The Farringdon neighborhood is home to many restaurants, cafes, grocery stores, and other amenities. Access to public transportation, including buses and the tube, is nearby.

    Participants in the London program remain registered as full-time students in the College. They take and receive credit for four courses: the three courses in the “British Literature and Culture” sequence and the fourth independent study course. Literature courses taught by Chicago English faculty may be used in their respective majors without special approval. Their use, partial or total, in other majors must be approved by the undergraduate chair of that department. Courses not used to meet major requirements may fill elective slots. Course titles, units of credit, and grades are placed on the College transcript.

    Study abroad students pay regular College tuition, a program fee, and a nonrefundable study abroad administrative fee. The tuition and program fee are paid in conformity with the home campus payment schedule, and the nonrefundable study abroad administrative fee is submitted when accepting a place in a program. Precise figures for the London program during the 2022–2023 year are listed below:

    Autumn tuition: as set by the Bursar’s Office

    Study abroad administrative fee: $675

    London program fee: $5,200

    Program fee includes:

    Out-of-pocket expenses include:

    • round-trip airfare to and from the program site
    • transportation on site
    • meals
    • course materials
    • personal entertainment and travel
    • communications (most students bring or buy a cell phone)
    • health insurance and upfront payments for care
    • other miscellaneous expenses

    Previous program participants report spending in the range of $200 to $250 per week on meals and incidentals while on the program, though frugal students may spend less, and others could spend much more. Bear in mind that the cost of living in London is relatively high and that, while it is possible to live frugally, it is also possible to run short of money if you are unwary. It is therefore essential that you budget your funds prudently, apportioning your resources so that they last for the duration of the program. If you are planning to travel before or after the program or on weekends, you should budget accordingly.

    Study abroad students retain their financial aid eligibility. For more information about financial aid resources, please see our Tuition, Fees, and Funding section.

    The London program is open to University of Chicago undergraduate students only. Applications from outside the University are not accepted.

    The program is designed for University of Chicago undergraduates in good academic and disciplinary standing with a strong interest in British literature and culture and with some coursework in this area. It is not required that English be a student’s major subject at Chicago, though students concentrating in those fields will likely find the program to be especially attractive and profitable. In general students should present a solid academic record and demonstrate the kind of maturity that is necessary to participate successfully in a program abroad.

    Each application is examined on the basis of the student’s scholastic record and personal statement. If you are interested in applying for this program please fill out the online application.

    To discuss the London: British Literature and Culture program and the possibility of participating, please contact Dana Currier.